Councils slam summer dust

WITH the level of large-scale residential development increasing in both the southern and northern corridors, local governments are making moves to prohibit bulk earthworks in subdivisions during the summer months to control dust pollution.

The combination of extensive remnant bush clearing for residential developments, strong summer winds, dry weather and friable sand has led to excessive dust pollution in some regions.

City of Cockburn is currently considering a draft policy that will completely prohibit bulk earthworks on certain sites from October 1 to March 31.

Development industry sources say the City of Wanneroo is also considering a similar policy.

According to one source, if the policies were implemented consumers would bear the brunt of the extra costs the developer would face due to not being able to develop for six months.

While there are Environmental Protection Authority guidelines in place to control levels of dust pollution, most of the guidelines are not enforced.

Despite efforts with screening, fencing and watering systems, residential subdivision works conducted during harsh summer conditions create high levels of airborne dust that results in a spike in the number of complaints to local government.

A City of Cockburn spokesman said the region was experiencing a high level of development and, as a result, the city had received an increasing number of complaints about dust pollution during the windy summer months.

The Urban Development Institute of Australia March quarter figures for the number of lots under construction and to be released within six months reveal that the cities of Cockburn and Wanneroo have two of the highest levels of subdivision.

The City of Cockburn’s Prevention of Sand Drift From Subdivision and Development Sites policy has been advertised for public comment and is now being processed for presentation to council.

The spokesman said that if council adopted the policy it was hoped it would be in place for this summer. 

City of Rockingham has had a policy in place that prohibits bulk earthworks between September 30 and April 1 due to problems with wind-blown sand since around 1995.

City of Rockingham major projects manager Stuart Marshall said the Rockingham policy was based on the existing EPA guidelines but allowed the council to react to complaints about dust pollution.

He said since its implementation the city had not had a great deal of complaints from developers.

“Most developers do their earthworks in the winter months. During summer they can put in services and build roads but prior to that they have to do all bulk earthworks,” Mr Marshall said.

He said any council along the coast had similar problems. 

Cedar Woods Properties chief executive Paul Sadlier said the policy meant developers had to plan more in advance.

He said any constraints had costs attached and it would be better if dust control policies were applied on a case-by-case basis.

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